So it is February of 2016 and I am on my second season of touring with Forum Theatre and Education, a company based in Valencia, Spain. The company specialises in creating theatre in English for children, teenagers and sometimes adults. I absolutely love touring, but it can also be very hard work and extremely tiring! So, here are a few tips to surviving a theatre (or any kind of tour I suppose) tour!
Stay connected with friends and family – For me, this is probably one of the most important things. The invention of FaceTime/Skype/Whatsapp makes communicating with people, especially people in another country, a lot easier. When I first arrived in Spain in August 2015 I felt homesick. I was in in another country and in an area that doesn’t speak much English. Being able to phone my mum, or my closes friends from home made settling in much easier. Although I don’t get homesick now, I stay in contact with family and friends speaking to at least one person from home everyday.
Have time for yourself – This is pivotal. I don’t know if I can explain well enough the importance of this, but I will try. When you spend Monday to Friday with someone, sharing a stage, exploring new areas, eating together, etc, you do need some alone time. Time for you. Time to recuperate and relax for the next day. Time for you to be with your own thoughts. Time for reflection. Thankfully the company I work for makes sure we never share rooms in hotels on tour which means time by yourself is completely possible.
Pick your battles – You will be spending a lot of time with the people you are touring with. Everyone has bad habits or annoying things they do. So just remember, yes that person may be doing something that you find frustrating but you probably have equally infuriating traits too. So stay calm and ask yourself if your problem is worth an argument or fall out. If it is worth it, just remember to stay calm.
Look after yourself – Ok, so this one seems pretty obvious but I think it is worth mentioning because when you are on tour you go to some fantastic places and have incredible opportunities to discover and explore new parts of the world and be a tourist. However, I think it is important to remember that you still have a job to do. For me, I need to be able to get up and perform up to three shows a day, Monday to Friday, meaning I could have fifteen shows a week. This means I need to make sure I am eating properly and getting enough sleep. I can’t go out drinking and staying out until the early hours if I have a show the next day because I just wouldn’t be able to do show the next morning. Of course illnesses occur and injuries happen but it is also important to remember you need time to get better. If a show needs to be cancelled because you can’t ‘go on’ it is fine! It is better that a show is cancelled than you doing yourself permanent damage.
Take some home comforts with you – By home comforts, I mean something important to you that makes you have that warm, cosy feeling that sitting by a fire with family/friends while it is snowing outside has (do you know what I mean?). For me this home comfort is a knitted toy rabbit that I’ve had since the day I was born and a blanket my mum crocheted for me when I was a baby. I don’t take these ‘comforts’ with me during the week because I am lucky enough to have a base (a flat in Valencia) which means every Friday I get to go home to them for the weekend, or at least until Sunday late afternoon when we normally leave for tour again. But I know if I was to have to live out of a suitcase for a theatre tour, my knitted toy rabbit would come with me, and if I had space for my blanket, it would come as well.
Above all else, tour is supposed to be fun, so enjoy!